A typical dictionary says that manifesto is the a declaration of policy, belief, intentions and aims, especially one issued before an election by a political party or a candidate. It is made in public with the sole objective of getting more votes to get elected to lead and rule the society. In simple language it is a list of assurances and promises. The voters are human beings. Hence by corollary, the promises are about the healthy future of the people.
What about manifesto by a citizen?
Fortunately the ‘manifesto of citizens ’ has the timely backdrop. The world’s largest gathering of religious devotees, nearly 150 million, huddled together on the banks of river Ganges in India, from January 2019 for nearly 2 months. That was the festival of spirituality called ‘Kumbhamela’ . Taking a holy dip in the waters of three rivers that flow from Himalaya and meet near the northern city of Prayagraj is the key aim of these pilgrims. Nowhere in the world such mammoth flocking of the people of single faith is observed at regular interval.
And now comes, just a month from that congregation,
The voters have started
Here are the tenets of such
Mountains in the north and oceans in the south hold together buzzing,
Farmers’ distress due to dwindling yield and
The mother-issues, however, is the climate change and the state of the environment in
While the loan waivers , sending thousands of rupees into the saving bank accounts of the poor, providing free home appliances, free water for all, free electricity for all farmers and luring promises of very cheap cereals for staple foods have been till now part of the manifesto and good gifts to ‘celebration of festival of democracy’. In the
Time has arrived for celebrating now the elections as the
‘ festival of future’ of sustainable living. The election should no longer be considered as the opportunity to elect the candidate of choice but the occasion of selecting the future that citizen’s want. It should be the juncture to decide future of the present generations without compromising that of future generations.
India is facing the Himalayan dilemma.
As a consequence of the melting ice, the water in
The new report highlights how vulnerable many mountain people are. These
Migration due to sufferings in
Global warming , however, has wider impacts than just melting of glaciers and sufferings in Gangetic plains and mountains area . Take for example 12 coastal states of India where the fish stocks in the seas are decreasing rapidly due to warm water which absorbs more carbon dioxide and becomes acidic, which in turn disrupts the marine food-chain. The impacts on sea-fisheries is already visible and signalling long term and irreversible damages. Inland polluted waters in the rivers and lake have nearly wiped out the freshwater fisheries. The essential supply of nutrients is dwindling along with living of those employed directly and indirectly in this sector.
Use of fossil fuel is the main driver of the climate change. The air pollution is the other side of the same coin. It is sarcastically stated that Delhi is the world’s capital of air-pollution. Reports keep pouring on how Indian cities are polluted with its poor air quality which in many a times is thousands of times worse than WHO standards. The latest report of March 2019 of Greenpeace states that 7 out of 10 most air-polluted cities are in India . Nearly 1.2 million deaths are estimated from India due to air-pollution as per WHO. Economic value of damages due to air pollution is estimated to be 3 to 8 percent of GDP of India. The children and women population are more vulnerable and hence many times it is extremely difficult to forecast the real impacts of air pollution.
The rich in India – 10 percent of rich own 75 percent of
The manifestos replete with loan waivers, free water, free electricity to farmers , health services, reduced taxation and cheaper foodgrains in such grim situation appear to be archaic and out of context. What is needed is accelerated promotion of use of natural gas and clean sources of energy including solar, super energy efficiency, balanced, innovative and safe use of nuclear energy , spread of electrical charging infrastructure for electrical vehicles and massive afforestation. The ambitious target should be reduce the fossil fuel use by 50 percent by 2040 and 100 percent by 2100 as recommended by the IPCC. Intense rain water harvesting , reducing the surface water pollution, water conservation and recycling have to be subject of the strict implementation and breaching should be dealt by punitive measures.
More importantly, all these ambitious goals appear to be within reach knowing the sky-rocketing potential of digital technologies like Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Block chain and cloud networking.
Indeed the guiding principles for Citizen’s Manifesto should the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals ( SDGs). In the year 2015 , one year after the last general election of India, United Nations set out an ambitious new agenda and benchmarks, aiming to steer the course of the world towards sustainable development – this by 2030.
Designed to comprehensively address an interconnected range of issues, these new Goals on poverty and hunger removal, wellbeing of the people and planet, climate change, protecting the oceans and forests , health and sanitation, access to clean water and clean energy, peace and building partnerships and strong institutions are set to facilitate collective for a shared future.
Pointing to the “unprecedented prosperity, but also unspeakable deprivation around the world’, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi said it all when he had stated during his speech to United Nations during the adaptation of
Indeed, one can never wish to waive the loan taken from Mother Earth for our current wellbeing. We have to return it with interest so that future of next generation of the Mother Earth is not compromised. That should be the preamble of the citizen’s manifesto. END